So far, the apocalyptic Donald Trump administration has felt like a plot line cribbed straight from the DC cinematic universe, complete with under-developed characters, creepy villains and rampant confusion. But thanks to a Twitter feud between Captain America and a real-life Nazi, we’re actually stuck in the middle of a Marvel film. Baby steps, people.
Last Wednesday, Hollywood everyman Chris Evans (not to be confused with Pratt, Hemsworth, and/or the star of La La Land), set himself apart from self-righteous celebrity Twitter by bagging a virtual feud with a real-life eugenicist. It all began with the confirmation of Jeff Sessions, a man whom Coretta Scott King may or may not have endorsed for Attorney General (depending on if you’re asking Coretta Scott King or Sean Spicer). After former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted out a message of support for the extremely problematic Sessions, Evans picked up his proverbial Captain America shield—more likely, an iPhone or Android—opining that if David Duke “thinks you’re right, then you are unequivocally wrong.” This hot take earned Evans over 21,000 retweets, illustrating once again the many benefits of tweeting while chiseled. Not one to ignore the invocation of his own name—especially when recited into a mirror three times—Duke immediately appeared in Evans’ mentions, calling the Captain America star a “typical dumb actor.” Sick burn, Duke.
Next, Evans shared a list of 25 of Duke’s most offensive quotes. It took David Duke three days to download the Picstitch app and build his clap back, but boy did he ever. On Sunday, the ardent Trump supporter tweeted out four pictures of Evans standing next to several women, including ex-girlfriend Jenny Slate and Oscar-nominated actress Naomie Harris. He captioned this meticulous collage “Why does Chris Evans, who plays the Jewish inspired super hero, Captain America, hate the women of his people so much?”
We may never know why Evans “hate[s] the women of his people so much,” because that question is dumb, ludicrous, and nonsensical. However, Duke’s claims about Captain America’s Semitic ancestry actually point us towards a fascinating origin story. Captain America was created in 1940 by two Jews, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg). With his blonde hair and blue eyes, the hero was built to represent the Aryan ideal, but with a crucial twist—Captain America was imagined as the bane of Nazi Germany. In Captain America Comics #1, the patriotic soldier was portrayed punching Adolf Hitler. That’s right, kids—punching Nazis is actually an age-old American pastime. Simon noted that, “When the first issue came out we got a lot of ... threatening letters and hate mail. Some people really opposed what Cap stood for.” Nevertheless, he and Kirby “felt very good about making a political statement” and “taking a stand.” As World War II raged on, Captain America went on to become a comic book standout—that first issue alone sold nearly a million copies.
So when Evans first signed up to play Captain America in 2011, he tapped into a long history of righteous resistance. In fact, the first big nemesis that Evans came up against in Captain America: The First Avenger was Red Skull, a supervillain who works a day job as Adolf Hitler’s head of advanced weaponry. Of course, at that point, few of us envisioned an American neo-Nazi resurgence. David Duke, with his artificial visage and atrocious politics, makes a convincing real-world Red Skull. But while the fictional Captain America likely would have fought back with an explosive master plan, Evans unleashed some platitudes instead. He responded to Duke’s provocation with pointed advice: “I don't hate them. That's YOUR method. I love. Try it. It's stronger than hate. It unites us. I promise it’s in you under the anger and fear.” In 2017, Captain America is preaching self-reflection and solidarity on your Twitter timeline.
Evans’ Captain America was last seen in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. More recently, the actor made headlines after an amicable split with actress Jenny Slate. Yes, Slate is Jewish. No, that’s probably not the only reason Evans doesn’t like Nazis. The underreported-ly woke actor has also spoken out for gun control, and voiced opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Apparently, many heroes actually do wear capes. Then again, he’s a Patriots fan.